A Derry hostel has come up with a novel way of beating the recession - by letting backpackers stay for free.
“There’s no catch,” says Kylie Barsdell, owner of Derry City Independent Hostel on Great James Street.
“Backpackers can stay from two to four nights free until Easter week and then through the winter season right up until St Patrick’s Day next year,” he says.
Instead of paying the usual rates for accommodation, the hostel owner says payment will be left to the discretion of backpackers.
“We will give everyone the chance to make a contribution to the hostel’s running costs when they are leaving. If they want, they can ‘tip’ us what they think the hostel was worth to them. But if they decide that they cannot make any contribution, that’s up to them. It will be free. ”
The unique move is designed to encourage more people to come to the city.
“Some backpackers’ hostel occupancy rates in Ireland have almost halved in the last four years and many have closed down or gone part time,” Kyle says. “We saw that we had a lot of free beds in the winter months and decided that we might as well be filling the beds if we are open, in a bid to get more people to come to Derry.”
He says potentially giving away free stays can help put Derry firmly back on the backpacking map.
“Hopefully by making a real Free Derry Hostel , we can drive backpackers numbers back up and make Derry city the ‘must visit destination’ that we want it to be.”